Monday, 05 December 2011 19:18

Highlights from Selected Sessions and Events

Panel of First Ladies on HIV

The First Lady of Namibia, current president of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA), gave a short speech outlining the objectives of OAFLA, followed by African First Ladies' representatives from Rwanda, Namibia, Chad and Ethiopia, presenting achieved successes in the fight against HIV/AIDS in their respective countries and the roles played by the first ladies.

Among the successes mentioned due to the direct roles played by the African first ladies were universal access to care and support for those living with HIV/AIDS in Namibia, the integration of PMTCT services in child health facilities in Rwanda reaching about 80% of pregnant women, and female genital mutilation being declared Haram (or a forbidden practice) for the first time in the Afar region of Ethiopia where it was commonly practiced in a most severe fashion.

Three key priority areas identified by the President of OAFLA to be taken on in her term of presidency were: expansion of effective prevention of new HIV infections among children while keeping their mothers alive, promotion of effective communication and advocacy of HIV/AIDS related issues and re-organization of OAFLA membership to increase commitment, revitalize members and attract new ones.

Poster Presentations & Exhibitions

Poster presentation of abstracts were open for display today starting 12:00 at Dallol Hall in the dedicated ICASA 2011 Millennium Hall, to showcase research findings, best practices and strategies in the response to HIV and AIDS. Along with the poster presentations, exhibitions were also shown by various organizations, scientific and pharmaceutical companies displaying their works, equipments and strategies through various means.

Session on Antiretrovirals (ARVs) stresses that adherence to ARV studies must be contextualized

During a session on adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART), speakers discussed how to accurately evaluate whether people are taking their treatment correctly, as well as the issue of how people develop resistance to certain antiretrovirals (ARVs). The question of how people in poor settings relate to their illness and treatment was also raised. It is clear that the price of ARVs remains one of the major deterrents for adherence to treatment, while levels of social support are also a major factor in the adherence or non adherence to drugs. Speakers added that an information gap exists and that there are not enough contextual studies on the issue of adherence to treatment factors. Speakers stressed that adherence to ARVs must be contextualized. For women especially, we must look at additional symptoms of ARVs, the provision of food with ARVs, and the availability of transport which allows women to travel to clinics and pick up their medicine. One speaker suggested that in the African context adherence to ARVs is strong because of strong social support.

Quotation of the Day

"....we can, however, say with great confidence that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, there is no doubt that we will win this war against HIV and AIDS...."

H.E Director of IGAD, Ms. Netsanet Asfaw, representing H.E First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Africa is called for reliance on its resources for HIV and AIDS Funding

In a Ministerial Panel held today during the 16th ICASA, African countries are encouraged to exploit their own resources to finance HIV and AIDS responses in a bid to avoid foreign aid dependence. Presentation made during the panel spoke loud that Africa has been heavily relying on the international donors for HIV and AIDS funding. “The world’s 74% funding, for instance, comes to sub -Saharan Africa” said Dr. Debrework Zewdie. “As a result, the continent continues to suffer from big funding challenges from the cuts,” she added.

Resource gaps in African countries have become a big threat that can and must be surmounted by Africans themselves. According to the panelists, domestic money needs to be used for HIV and AIDS prevention and control. The current African economic growth and the political commitment to HIV and AIDS responses are encouraging. Africa should, therefore, be able to lessen its dependence on international funds.

The same idea was reiterated in a satellite session that deliberated on HIV and AIDS financing in sub-Saharan Africa. Increased domestic resources turned out to be one of the ways forward for Africa to overcome its funding crisis.

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